The U.S. Virgin Islands: America's Caribbean Shopping Mecca



The U.S. Virgin Islands are rightly known as a shopping mecca: hundreds of merchants cater to a captive audience of cruise ship passengers, resort guests and boat enthusiasts. Add to that a generous $1600 duty-free allowance and no sales tax, you've got a shopaholic's paradise. But prices on most items aren't especially cheap – don't forget that everything has to be shipped or flown in, which adds to the bottom line.

This doesn't deter avid shoppers though, who come for the duty-free booze, cigarettes and jewels above all. The greatest concentration of such shops is found in St. Thomas near the main cruise ship port. The Havensight Mall's 100+ shops offer an array of merchants like AH Riise, Diamonds International, Passman, Little Switzerland and Royal Caribbean where rum, black coral pendants and Marlboros are on the menu. Branches of these stores are also found on St. Croix, and to a lesser extent, St. John.

Another thing the Virgin Islands is known for is funky boutiques selling eclectic crafts, handmade jewelry, and gift items. For example Bamboula on St. John offers musical instruments from Africa, the Estate Whim Museum Store on St. Croix has historical maps, and Tillett Gardens in St. Thomas features hand-crafted jewelry from dozens of local artisans. Crucian Gold on St Croix is famous for its distinctive bracelet designs, and Donald Schnell Studio on St. John is worth visiting for the gorgeous ceramics.

Name-brand clothing and designer goods are abundant at Yacht Haven Grande on St. Thomas, where shops like Gucci, Bulgari, Coach and Aqua Beachwear will empty your wallet. For more unique island styles, head to From the Gecko boutique in St. Croix, which offers fair-trade clothing lines made from organic materials.


Mango Tango Art Gallery
Photo courtesy of Karen Elowitt


Just outside the hustle and bustle of Charlotte Amalie is an excellent gallery selling works by local and internationally recognized artists who spend all or part of their time in the Caribbean. In addition to paintings, sculpture and...  Read More




Recently voted "best ladies' clothing in the USVI," this enchanting little store owned by Danna Brosius has been dressing Crucian women (and men) in stylish island-casual garb for more than 20 years. Collections come from designers all over the...  Read More


Donald Schnell Studio
Photo courtesy of Karen Elowitt


This ceramics gallery is also a workshop where you can watch artisans at work making water fountains, lights, signs, planters, vases, musical wind chimes and dinnerware. The gallery specializes in coral pottery dinnerware; coral sand and melted...  Read More


Tillett Gardens


Silk-screen artist Jim Tillett and his wife founded Tillett Gardens in 1959 as a screen printing studio and art gallery. Since then it has expanded into a wide- ranging arts and crafts center where local artists and craftsmen make and sell ...  Read More


Estate Whim Museum Store


This shop, which is next door to the historic Whim Plantation house, offers an impressive array of art, West Indian crafts, artifacts, antiques, furniture, textiles, and even local foods. Many of the mahogany and teak furniture pieces are...  Read More




Located in an un-missable pink and yellow house with gingerbread trim, Pink Papaya dazzles the eyes with a riot of colors, shapes and sizes once you step in the door. You'll find everything from ceramics to tableware to jewelry to home decor...  Read More


Yacht Haven Grande
Photo courtesy of Karen Elowitt


Yacht Haven Grande is new-ish waterfront development that includes a luxury yacht marina, residential condos, restaurants, and over 40 high-end shopping boutiques. Lots of pricey designer brands are represented here, including Louis Vuitton,...  Read More




Owned and run by the Bishop family, a team of artisans and metalsmiths native to St. Croix, Crucian Gold features a variety of beautiful handmade jewelry designs inspired by the history, people, and natural environment of the island. Crafted...  Read More




Located in the heart of Mongoose Junction, owner Jo Sterling's excellent multi-cultural boutique offers an impressive array of historic and exotic finds from the Caribbean, Africa and Indonesia. You'll find yourself spending hours browsing the...  Read More


Havensight Mall
Photo courtesy of Karen Elowitt


This mall, which greets cruise ship passengers who disembark at the West Indian Company dock, is one of the major shopping areas on the island (besides downtown). It boasts about 100 shops and restaurants, plus various service providers such as...  Read More


Map

Meet Karen Elowitt

Karen worked for several years as a newspaper reporter and copy editor before becoming a travel writer. She worked for renowned  travel expert Peter Greenberg before going freelance, and now...  More About Karen

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